Saturday, March 30, 2019

Hard Loving Cowboy (Crossroads Ranch #3) by A.J. Pine

Title: Hard Loving Cowboy: Includes a bonus novella (Crossroads Ranch)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Crossroads Ranch (Book 4)
Format: Paperback; 480 pages
Publisher: Forever (March 26, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1538727110
ISBN-13: 978-1538727119
Author's Website:
Notes:  I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my opinion.

Walker Everett has spent years drowning his pain and sorrow at the bottom of a bottle. When he finally hits rock bottom he decides to enter rehab, and turn his life around at his brother's request. It's not been easy for the cowboy, but he's been taking it day by day, one sober step at a time. When Violet enters his life, there's something about the warm and intriguing young woman he just can't seem to resist--even though he knows he should. Perhaps it's the way she looks at him, not as a person who's struggled with addiction, but as someone who she could possibly like. But if he tells her his deep dark secret would that change?

Violet Chastain is an impulsive, passionate, and beautiful young woman who enters Walker's life in a whirlwind. After finding out her boyfriend is married, she breaks up with him on the way to a job interview and, in order to pay him back for all the feelings of rage, jealousy, and betrayal that have been boiling up inside her during their ninety-four minute drive, she kisses the first man she sees--Walker.

Walker finds himself at a Crossroads. There's something about Violet that makes him to want more. Inspires him to want to be a better man. The question is can he be?
This is the third book in the Crossroads Ranch series. I rather like the theme the author picked for this series--Crossroads. After reading 'Hard Loving Cowboy' I'm curious as to what crossroads Walker's other brothers faced. Additionally, I like the sense of family you get as you read and I'm dying to know what role Walker played in the previous books. This story can definitely be read as a standalone and you won't feel lost, but you'll probably be left wondering about the previous stories.

Walker has a need to find and/or reinvent himself after so many years of drinking. While his main job is working on the family ranch, he makes beautiful furniture which he sells here and there. He also has a hand in the family winery which to me seems like a bad combination. Once Walker wanted more for himself, now he needs to figure out if those those goals and ambitions have changed or if they remain the same. He also has to prove to himself he can stay sober because if he can't do that, then nothing will change. His attraction to Violet only complicates matters.

Violet was a music major until her mother got sick, and she put her career plans on hold to help her family out. To her family is everything, and she likes the close knit group of Walker's. She was only going to apply for a part time position with the winery, but when she finds out about her boss' marital status she quits faster than you can say cheese, and she finds she needs something a little more permanent. Luckily, she finds full time work. and them some. in San Luis Obispo.

I believe things going on in your life can affect how much you like a book at any given moment. It could be something that happened to you in your past or present, it could be something that happened to someone else, or it could be something you experienced while reading a book or watching a movie that tugged at your heartstrings and touched you emotionally. For me it was watching the latest version of 'A Star is Born'. It was a very sad movie and I kept feeling like a giant rain cloud was hanging over this couple, and I kept worrying that Walker would give in to his addiction. Silly, I know, because this is a bona fide romance, but that movie kept lingering in the back of my head. You see, Walker has a drinking problem and I kept fearing he'd go back to his self destructive ways. When he meets Violet, he's only been sober for 2 months. Pair that with the fact that as the book progresses she seems to be the one thing that inspires him to remain sober, and that is not healthy. It's not until close to three hundred pages into the book that Walker states, "If I'm sober for you or my brothers or Jenna, then what does that mean when none of you are around? If I'm not doing it for me, then I'll drink the first chance I get when I know I won't be caught." That was when I let out a huge sigh of relief, and was able to finally let myself truly enjoy the story.

Personally, I wish the author had started this story further into Walker's rehabilitation, but maybe Ms Pine wanted to clearly make a point. Life has a tendency to happen on its own terms, at it's own pace, in its own time, and sometimes things happen when it's most inconvenient. Perhaps the author wanted to stress the fact Walker had to realize he was the only one who could fix things. That he had to want recovery or it might never stick. Let's face it recovering from an addiction such as alcohol is not easy. A person has to choose not to let alcohol control them and has to choose not to drink it by learning how to manage it. Anyone who can kick this addiction or any other has my utmost respect, and I'd love to ask the author why he or she decided to start this story in the early stages of Walker's recovery. It seems a strange choice.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. I liked the story, loved the couple, and adored both their families. There were some twists, hurdles, a lot of sweet moments that made my heart go pitter-patter, and a happy ending. Yay!  I so wish I'd read this one before seeing 'A Star is Born'. I know I would have enjoyed it even more. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Crossroads Ranch series:

Novellas associated with the Crossroads Ranch series:
(To be read after Second Chance Cowboy)

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